San Francisco State University
Library Home page Welcome to your university library

J. Paul Leonard Library

Find Research Help Services About
site navigation
display graphic

On Strike! Shut it Down! (Exhibit 1999)

Case 9: Unions


During the 1960s, the working relationship between the California State College system and its employees was different, in one unique way, from what it is today. Though earlier working requirements for faculty and staff, including their duties and activities, may be similar to today's working climate, their earlier endeavors did not have the benefit of collective bargaining (the legal relationship between employees and their employer which forces the two parties to negotiate a contract covering wages, hours, and working conditions). For most CSC employees the right to collective bargaining would not be fulfilled until the next decade. In the late 1960s, faculty and staff members belonged to a variety organizations which desired to be bargaining agents, but such organizations had no legal negotiating relationships with the state and/or the CSC system. This employee status meant that in terms of working conditions such as grievance procedures, numbers of contract hours, benefits, etc., the employer, in this case the California State College system and the State of California, dictated the conditions. The oldest employee organization at that time was the California State Employees Association, an organization of state employees in all state agencies, including the California State Colleges. Both faculty and staff belonged to CSEA. CSEA worked diligently to protect state employee rights, and did act on behalf of its San Francisco State members during the strike. However, the most visible San Francisco State employee organizations during the strike were the faculty organizations--the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1352, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the California College and University Faculty Association (CCUFA), and the Association of California State College Professors (ACSCP). Local 1352, AAUP, and CCUFA had national affiliations, Local 1352 with the national American Federation of Teachers, AAUP with its parent organization, and CCUFA with the National Education Association. ACSCP was the only organization with no 'connections' outside the California State College System. The first proposal from the California State Colleges for collective bargaining (for negotiations between the Trustees and the CSC faculty) was presented to the Trustees in 1967 by San Francisco State's ACSCP Chapter. The San Francisco State faculty voted that ACSCP, rather than AFT, would take the lead. The proposal was presented by mathematics Professor Newman Fisher at a meeting of the Trustees at San Jose State College. Trustee Louis Heilbron wrote a lengthy report in opposition to the proposal. The Trustees subsequently voted against the proposal.

Researchers also have to look at the differences between those faculty organizations considered by their members as 'associations,' in which faculty come together for scholarly and professional interchange, and those faculty organizations created as 'unions,' which clearly fight for worker's rights. Many academics considered themselves 'professionals' and did not necessarily want to be associated with organizations connected to the 'working class.' Yet, their organizations, too, had points of view concerning working conditions, and these organizations were vying to become bargaining representatives. There was friendly and not-so-friendly rivalry among the various organizations.

The most prominent faculty organization during the strike was AFT Local 1352, a union led by a group of faculty who believed in taking action to correct wrongs. In the two years preceding the student strike ( November 6, 1968 ) several faculty members had been noting various problems related to their working conditions and commenting publicly on larger issues such as institutional racism as well as the college's position with respect to the Vietnam War and how the position affected students. Also, many members were sympathetic to the social and political plight of San Francisco State's underrepresented students. Their concerns extended to even more complex issues such as: gaining new faculty positions for various departments to replace those that would be used to create a School of Ethnic Studies and a Black Studies Department; rescinding the Trustee disciplinary rules for faculty members; a procedure for regular salary increases to maintain a qualified faculty; recognition of a college constitution to come out of a Constitutional Convention, and several other issues. Underlying these broader issues was AFT's concern with local control versus absentee political control, that is local campus decision-making as opposed to distant decision-making by entities such as the Chancellor's Office, the Trustees, and the State Legislature. Many AFT members also were in favor of collective bargaining. The faculty had their own issues including the lack of binding grievance procedures, the control over personnel decisions, salary and benefits, the number of assigned teaching units and hours, curricular control, conditions for sabbatical and other leaves, and prevention for lay-offs. Since these problems had not been addressed over time, they felt it was appropriate to bring up these issues, as well as others, during the Fall, 1968. In December, AFT requested sanction for a strike from the San Francisco Labor Council.

AFT strike demands would be shaped from a broad spectrum of faculty issues and concerns. These were listed in three categories and directed to; the college President and the Administration, the Trustees of the California State College system, and the Governor and State Legislature. Included, along with their work issues, was amnesty for all faculty, staff, and students who had been arrested during the student strike, solutions to the BSU and TWLF grievances, approval of the Safdie Student Union Building, recognition of a college constitution, and sufficient funding from the legislature to support the provisions of the strike agreement. Preliminary meetings to resolve some of the issues were held in December among representatives of Local 1352, the San Francisco Labor Council, representatives from the Chancellor's Office, an appointed mediator, and representatives from Mayor Alioto's office (which included a citizen's committee). The issues were not resolved according to Local 1352's satisfaction, and AFT subsequently received sanction for a strike from the San Francisco Labor Council. Members of the union went out on strike upon the reopening of campus on January 6, 1969. AFT leadership and their members placed a picket line around the campus. Approximately 350 faculty members, and other union supporters, were involved in the faculty strike. On two occasions San Francisco Superior Court judges ordered the AFT to cease strike action, but to no avail. Finally on February 24, 1969, the Local 1352 announced a tentative faculty strike settlement. On March 5, 1969, most union faculty members returned to teaching classes. The student strike continued until March 21, 1969.

The faculty strike was only one element of the complex nature of the turmoil of 1968-1969. Although AFT membership was not always unanimous in its own course of action, AFT leadership wanted control over some areas in which they could have no control. Topics, such as certain educational requirements or personnel benefits were mandated by state law, as written in Title 5 of the California State Administrative Code. Settlement of student issues and demands could be supported, but the faculty had no say in the actual resolution process. Control over the construction of a Student Union Building depended upon negotiations between campus management and the Trustees. In light of all these difficulties and the many conflicts, members of most campus organizations took action in support of their beliefs.

SF State Home
J. Paul Leonard Library, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 - 415.338.1854 - libweb@sfsu.edu
JPLL uses valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional, and valid CSS.